• Fri
  • Dec 26, 2014
  • Updated: 5:38pm

Kwai Tsing dock workers strike

On March 28, 2013, dock workers at Kwai Tsing took industrial action seeking a 17 per cent pay rise. The port is operated by Hongkong International Terminals (HIT).

NewsHong Kong

Hutchison Whampoa attacks unionist lawmaker in first comments on dockers' strike

Li Ka-shing's top lieutenant attacks unionist lawmaker amid ad campaign over dockers' increasingly bitter pay-and-conditions dispute

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 21 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 21 April, 2013, 6:28am

Tensions over the dockers' strike rose further yesterday as one of Li Ka-shing's top lieutenants publicly slammed unionist lawmaker Lee Cheuk-yan.

Canning Fok Kin-ning claimed Lee was not genuinely interested in helping the workers and harboured ulterior motives.

"Lee Cheuk-yan resorts to every means - he doesn't want an outcome at all, hoping that as the strike drags on, he can negotiate with Mr Li so as to boost his own publicity," Fok, Hutchison Whampoa's group managing director, said to reporters on a trip to Beijing. "This [strike] has been using the style of the Cultural Revolution [where people are vilified on banners and posters]," he added.

Fok said he did not believe the dockers' working conditions were that bad and they were "willing to work long hours".

His remarks were the first public ones on the strike from Hutchison Whampoa - the parent company of port operator Hongkong International Terminals, whose contractors employ the 450 striking dockers.

Lee hit back, deriding Fok as the "King of all workers", a swipe at the executive's high pay package, and said Fok could not understand the plight of grass-roots workers.

As for Fok's reference to Cultural Revolution tactics, Lee said: "We just want to express how discontented we feel ... [the head shots] are just comical creativity used all the time in modern society to express the emotions of people," Lee said.

As the strike entered its 24th day yesterday, HIT placed full-page ads in most newspapers in the city, other than Apply Daily, attacking the union's demands as "unachievable". The ad alleged Lee's role in the industrial action was purely to advance personal interests.

In the Chinese-language version of the statement, HIT wrote: "Is someone unwilling to make a deal? Is there someone who wants to achieve his own purpose and is ignoring the interests of the workers?"

But those sentences did not appear in the English-language version of the statement, headed "Breakthrough sought after three weeks of labour dispute".

The ads said "the average monthly salary for dockers has already reached HK$20,000" and the 20 per cent pay rise they have been demanding would "create an impact across other industries and cause irreparable damage to Hong Kong".

Union of Hong Kong Dockers strike organiser Stanley Ho Wai-hong said: "The figures provided by HIT are misleading, as dockers would have to work many 24-hour shifts to earn HK$20,000 a month. But that is still way less than the amount earned by dockers hired directly."

The union, backed by Lee's Confederation of Trade Unions is demanding pay rises of 17 to 24 per cent and better conditions.

Based on advertisement rates for the papers listed online, HIT may have spent HK$1 million or more on yesterday's ads.

Meanwhile, a docker is seeking damages against the port operator and its subcontractor Global Stevedoring Service in District Court, saying he injured his right arm in an electric shock two years ago while working in the control room of a crane at Container Terminal Four.


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This article is now closed to comments

hard times !
Thus 'King of all workers' in town,Canning Fok is b..........again for his company,the Whampoa Hutchison (which is the parent company of the HIT which outsource jobs to contractors and subcontractors who hire the wokrers on strike) which boss,Li and his elder son,Victor son who would rather like to spend money on beauties or charities (to gain fame indeed) than raising the pay and refine the working environment of the dockers ! How shameless and shameful this over-rich family and their lieutanent ,Canning Fok are ! Shame on them !
If Guangdong docking service is to replace Hong Kong’s, the impact on Hong Kong is not quite a mixed bag. The minus sides are loss of jobs and profits for re-exporters. The plus sides are many. First, more tax for mainland government rightly by eliminating re-exports in Hong Kong. Second, there will be cleaner air for everyone with less polluting trucks and ships crossing. Third, the terminal can be freed up for housing (luxury types I am afraid). Fourth, possible more waterfronts accessible to public. Since the dock and the land it sits on all belong to Cheng Kong, being a pragmatic businessman, LKS must have foresee the eventual fate of the terminal and converting the dock to a prime piece of waterfront property. There shouldn’t be much criticisms of the demise of the Kwai Chung Container Terminal. But we should all be in sympathy with the strikers and hope they will get a fair treatment when their jobs get terminated.  
Without manufacturing, there is no justification for a container docking facility of an extent in Kwai Chung. It has been striving because of cost advantage. By re-exporting the goods produced in mainland from Hong Kong, there is a saving to the manufacturer if the goods were exported directly from mainland. It is tax invasion lawfully but mostly politically looking the other way by mainland government for Hong Kong’s port terminal to survive and even prospered. Hong Kong assists mainland manufacturers but no question that the operator of the terminal must have profited tremendously without due effort for more than a decade. So while LKS raked in profits, the rest of Hong Kong must suck in an air polluting ‘industry’ – activity really with of fouling air producing trucking from the north and shipping in our harbor. Do we all think Hong Kong government will take action against air pollution immediately? The container terminal that fundamentally has no intrinsic relationship with Hong Kong’s livelihood is very much in the way. No?
The strikers will only survive when their wages are no more than the tax advantage. It also makes sense for Hong Kong to see the container terminal gets folded permanently. But treat the 400 or so dockworkers a decent package on their way out. A pragmatic LKS knows.
There is no such thing as a free lunch. You get what you are worth. If the strikers believe they are worth more than what they are getting, then stop complaining and quit for another job somewhere else. This is fair supply and demand.
Unions do not help to create wealth or the economy. Why don't they do something that can actually increase the GDP? Just kook around, the more unionized an economy the worse off it is.
A Realist
hard times !
I wonder whether the lawmaker, Lee Cheuk-yan ( a pan-democratic camp member) has resort to every means to fight for the benefits of the strike dockers and his outcome is not just the end of the strike as described by the 'King of all workers' in town----Whampoa Hutchison's Canning Fok who said in Beijing that the dockers have never been asked to work on 24-hour shift and their working conditions were not as poor as described earlier.How cold-blooded this over-paid right-handed man of Li family for decades is ! Why doesn't he examine the working conditions of those outsourcing dockers himself by visiting the container terminal where he probably seldom goes or hasn't visited for years ! Right ?
hard times !
HIT would rather spend HK$ 1 million on advertisements in many local Chinese and English newspapers (except Apple Daily---which used to attack Li family and disclose its scandals ) than promising to raise the pay of its outsourcing employees hired by contractors and subcontractors.How absurd and indifferent this HIT (headed by that arrogant Yam Yui-fei) is ! Now the dockers on strike have transferred their base to the manison owned and resided by Li Ka-shing in Deep Water Bay. Wish this over-rich old guy good luck.Anyway,his fame and reputation have both been tarnished in this strike,together with his right-handed man,Canning Fok too !
cannig fok is the king of all w h o r e s
this vile troll should disappear
"Cause irreparable damage to Hong Kong", what BS is that
I have sympathy for the dock workers, but I would be the first one to cheer when the container ports are no longer necessary in Hong Kong. The sheer amount of pollution from these operations is truly breathtaking.
Is it true Hong Kong Government is going on a building spree? They need manpower. How about working for them, from dockers to builders?
Great comments to further destroy the public image of the Li Family’s business empire. Barvo!


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